New Year, still here

To celebrate the new year, and in the interest of simplifying and strengthening my web presence, I have decided to prune all my neglected webpages, blogs and abandoned projects strewn across the internet. All I need is my website, and my current and archival photos displayed on Flickr.

But somehow I could not delete this blog. Tin Can Beach refused to be abandoned, despite my neglect over the past three years. Besides, I have been searching for a way to start blogging again because — as focused as I have been on photography over the past few years — I realize that I miss writing. So I’ve changed my mind; I have decided to come back, to pick up the thread of my Saint John stories and photos. After all, it’s not really that much of a stretch: I may have stopped publishing for a while, but I have never stopped exploring.

Welcome back, friends.

photo taken Jan 1, 2015

streets of purple

streets of purple

I went uptown to go shopping on Saturday, and found the city centre beautifully decorated. But then the sun set, casting a bright wash of purple colour along the streets and making the harbour glow with reflected golden light, and that was the best decoration of all.

Photo taken on December 18, 2010

seeing is… seeing eyes

morning, Chance Harbour

When I first joined Flickr in 2006, I merely wanted to share my travel photos with family members on the other side of the world. I was surprised and pleased to see comments on one of the first photos I uploaded, and from then on, I was hooked. I would not be as avid a photo enthusiast today if I didn’t have Flickr to encourage and inspire me.

I chose my Flickr name “Seeing Is” partly because it can be read in two ways (I love puns) as “Seeing is… believing” for example, and as “Seeing eyes”. Having “seeing eyes” has become increasingly important to me. To see means to have vision, to pay attention, to notice and observe and wonder at all things great and small. I’ve always liked the image of the eagle, who sees clearly and far. Here on WordPress and other sites, I am eyeGillian (another pun), referring to photography and also my internal ego-emperor, a reference to the Robert Graves novel I, Claudius.

As I write this, my father is struggling with failing eyesight, and I can see how it has affected his previous enjoyment of driving, hiking, reading and even simple everyday tasks. I remember my disappointment when I had to get glasses at age 19. The thought of what my father must be going through, and the possibility of someday losing my own sight makes me cherish it all the more.

Yet there is something deeper than just seeing. I need to remember the wisdom I read as a child in The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “It is only with the heart that one sees rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye”.

Photo taken on November 14, 2010

waiting for the fog to lift

The fog has been constant this past week. This is a stubborn fog, and nothing seems to shake it. The rain came down hard for a short time yesterday, but it was still foggy. I could hear the wind howling last night, but the fog only hugged the city tighter.

And so we are waiting. I am waiting. I am ready for change.

I have been on an extended holiday. When my contract ended at the end of June, I decided that I wouldn’t mind taking a month off. It had been a long time since I’d taken a real vacation. The month became two, then three, and now…. now it’s October. And I am ready, more than ready, for change.

I have a job interview on Monday. Wish me luck.

Taken on September 25, 2010

keep the red on your right

A navigation beacon, a single oil lamp, was first erected here at the point of the South End peninsula in 1842. Then in 1847, it was replaced with this triple gas lampstand, known as the Three Sisters. It was refurbished in 1997.

Apparently the red colour facing the sea was visible for three miles from shore — a helpful aid in fog or dark. When coming into harbour from the Bay of Fundy, sailors would chart their course from the Three Sisters. The colour red shows the starboard limit of a channel, so they would know to keep red lamps on their right. If they could see all three red lamps, sailors would know they were heading straight into the harbour, however if only one or two could be seen, sailors knew they needed to change course. The street-side is white, so it guess it doubled as a regular streetlight.

In this photo, you can barely see a cruise ship docked in the foggy harbour. I’m glad these huge boats don’t have to rely on the Three Sisters to guide them into port!

Taken on July 11, 2009

market slip

This rocky bit of shoreline has seen a lot of history. By tradition, this is where United Empire Loyalists landed following the American Civil War. An estimated 15,000 Loyalists arrived in what is now New Brunswick between 1783 and 1785, the majority landing here to found Saint John. They weren’t the first to settle here; this spot is just around the corner from a traditional Wulstukwuik (Maliseet) and Mi’kmaq trading spot and the site of Fort LaTour, and a number of Acadians had settled in this region as well. Those who had lived here before were displaced, having no “title” to the land.

As the young city became a properous port, this became Market Slip, where ships lined both sides of the pier selling fresh fish and other goods. Photos from the 19th century show a sea of masts and carts clustered around the area, and a line of warehouses that were later included in the development of the Market Square shopping centre in the 1980s (just to the left of this photo).

Now there is a boardwalk and hotel along the old pier, a mall with a line of cafes and restaurants, a summer stage, and a popular beach volleyball venue just above the high tide mark. The fishing boats from a local Mi’kmaq community dock just around the corner on Long Wharf, dwarfed by the huge cruise ships that bring hordes of tourists in the summer and fall. It’s a far sight different than what the Loyalists may have envisioned, but it still thrives.

Taken on June 26, 2009

the house on the bluff

Living here, perched on the edge of the bluff, you can watch the sea coming and going all day. You can watch the container ships, the tankers, the fishing boats and cruise ships following the tide in and out of the harbour. You can watch the harbour seals and porpoises, the gulls and eagles trolling the shallow shores. You can watch everything that moves all the way to Nova Scotia on fine days, but on foggy days you might not even see the beach. And every kind of weather, be it rain or sun, snow or storm, will beat against your windows. And as the tide rises and falls and marks the rhythm of the days and seasons, you will be always be there, watching.

Taken on April 29, 2010